Pear Ravioli

This Pear Ravioli is the second and final installment of ravioli recipes my family learned together during our cooking class many years ago.

If you recall from my entry about Pumpkin Ravioli, I had a couple of ideas that I thought would make this process easier. One idea was to use an ice cube tray to help me portion the filling. That didn’t quite work out, so I am now thinking getting a ravioli gadget is worth it.

That being said, I felt my ability to do this manually so to speak went a lot smoother. I still had some imperfectly shaped ravioli, but I feel with more practice and some gadgets my problems with ravioli will be solved.

Keeping all of this in mind, the great news about making your own ravioli is that even if you mess it up, it’ll still taste yummy. I can’t make that case for everything, but knowing this is great for your morale if you end up struggling.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of fresh pears, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan, asiago, or percorino cheese
  • 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2/3-1 cup of parmesan

Our first step will be to make the filling and that consists of combing the pears, ricotta cheese, and the grated cheese of your choice from above.

Just mix those three ingredients together and then set aside.

The sauce and filling are a breath of fresh air to make. The real challenge is making the ravioli and that challenging process begins with making your own dough.

When making my pasta dough, I enjoy this recipe and culinary lesson of making pasta by this wonderful pasta scientist. She breaks down all the different ways you can make dough and the science behind it. My mother always said cooking is a lot like chemistry and this article makes that apparent. You can find her informative article here.

Once you’ve made your dough, the next step is to pull apart a quarter of your round dough ball and flatten that with a roller or pasta maker into a large rectangular shape. This step will be repeated until it’s all gone by the way. Taking only a 1/4 just helps maintain the portion we need for each batch.

By the way, feel free to look up how to make ravioli on that same link from above. There are other articles on that site and one of them is specifically for ravioli.

Back to my own process, once I made this rectangular shape, I attempted to use my ice cub tray as a measuring tool of filling size and more.

It did help me determine how large each ravioli piece should be, but it wasn’t as useful as I had hoped. I ended up discarding the tray and folding the dough in half from top to bottom after I placed my filling.

To place the filling I used a teaspoon to scoop out my filling. Then I placed that filling on the bottom portion of the rectangle about an inch above the border and the center of the bottom half. Each ball of filling was about 2 inches apart, give or take. That part is pretty easy to eye ball.

Once my filling was placed, that’s when I folded the top half over the bottom. I then used my fingers to sculpt the ravioli by creating a border between each piece and pushing the filling even more into a circular shape.

Once I felt things were even, I then cut the dough to separate each ravioli piece from the other and with a fork indented lines around the border.

While you’re making the ravioli by the way, I do suggest you boil a pot of water, so that once the ravioli is done you can just dump it in to cook.

That process should take around 7 minutes and while it’s boiling is the perfect time to make your sauce.

Making the sauce is even easier than making the filling. All you do is heat the cream, butter, and parmesan in a sauce pan until the cheese and butter has melted. Salt and pepper to taste and that’s all she wrote for the sauce.

Now all we need to do is strain the water once the ravioli is done cooking and serve individually with the sauce on top like below.

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This is another challenging recipe that I personally want to improve on, but turned out well despite that fact. I need to be more patient and thin out the dough more, because I always end up with leftover filling and thick pasta.

I enjoyed the pear version over the pumpkin as well. Sweet pear bites go well with bland (that’s my opinion) ricotta and that cream sauce is simple but comforting and yummy.

Despite the challenges you might face, I think this recipe is worth trying out because even if you fail with the ravioli, it’ll still taste good. Just maybe don’t serve it to any judgemental people in your life until you perfect it. If you care about their judginess that is. I personally enjoy making judgy people squirm sometimes. That sentence alone I’m sure has caused a great disturbance in the grammar police force. As I type it, it’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror.

It’s good for their mental health to be challenged to relax a little don’t you think?

Hopefully it is, otherwise I’m being seduced by the dark side and could use some help.

 

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Olives Rolled around in Fried Breadcrumbs

I have changed the translation of this recipe from Sicilian Cookery to the above, because I feel it is mis-leading. The cookbook translated Olive Con Pangrattato Fritto to Fried Breaded Olives. This puzzles me.

I know this is an authentic Italian cookbook that was translated into English because my sister got it for me when she visited Italy. The Italian portion should be correct but it doesn’t add up for me.

I studied Italian in college and I wouldn’t brag about my translation abilities, but I’m pretty sure fritto is Italian for fried. I did not know what pangrattato meant and had to look it up. It means breadcrumbs.

Olives = Olives, Con = with, Pangrattato = Breadcrumbs, and Fritto = Fried.When we put it all together and translate this literally, it’d be Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs.

Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs is a more honest and accurate translation in my opinion.

My current job is quality control for subtitles. I’ve seen a lot of languages pass my way and have encountered cases where translators debate on how to translate because just like certain words in English can mean the same thing, they can also be interpreted differently depending on where you live and/or the placement of such translated words.

In this case, I think the term fried solely applies to the breadcrumbs, whereas in the United States, when we say fried we mean the whole damn thing is fried. If it’s just one portion we are quick to point that out.

What can I say, we enjoy the delicacies of frying and to flat out translate this as Fried Breaded Olives, just makes it seem like it’s fried olives. It’s offensive I say to trick us like this!

Of course, I’m just joking around and translating is a hard gig. It’s a lot of pressure. You gotta be careful sometimes. Still at the end of the day, this translation is mis-leading. I’d reject it if I was translation q.c.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound/3 cups of green olives, scored
  • 4 ounces/1 cup of dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • hot red pepper
  • olive oil
  • vinegar

The first step is to fry the breadcrumbs, do so by heating a little oil in your pan, adding the crumbs, and stirring continuously.

In a bowl, get your olives and toss them around with your seasoning of garlic and some chopped parsley that was not mentioned in the ingredient list for some reason.

To be fair, parsley is practically in every Italian recipe. It’s just something a chef of Italian cuisine should just know.

We will then add the hot pepper, olive oil, a pinch of vinegar, and the fried breadcrumbs.

Mix this well and serve!

I brought this recipe over to my friend’s place because I wanted verification that I was reading the recipe right. Despite knowing Italian I was thrown off by the whole fried breaded olives interpretation.

We read the instructions a couple of times and determined that was indeed not fried. So we moved forward and created the below.

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Blessed be the olives

I’m not going to lie, they’re a little odd, but they aren’t bad. Ultimately I don’t know if I liked this enough to make again. My friend seemed to like it, but I was on the fence. The breadcrumbs were just too crumbly for me.

What I liked most were the olives. Why bother spreading bread crumbs all over if they aren’t enhancing the taste?

This might be wonderful for some people, but I’ll admit I’m just not really feeling it. I recommend making this recipe but leaving the breadcrumbs out.

Then again, if you’re like me and enjoy trying new things, you really should just try it and decide for yourself.

Choose your own adventure folks. It’s the way of life.

 

Eggs in Purgatory

This is a fitting recipe to describe my life currently let me tell you. Eggs in Purgatory.

Scratch that, I realize that the egg bit makes it seem like I’m going through menopause or trying to get pregnant maybe. Neither of those things is happening.

What I meant is that work has been hell for me right now and the weekend is like purgatory before I have to go back to the hell on Monday.

Purgatory isn’t so short and oh so sweet for most people, so I suppose I should feel lucky in that regard. I mean have you read Dante’s The Diving Comedy? 

Whatever purgatory you’re in right now, the good news is that this recipe is from Cook This, Not That which should help your case if you’re hoping to go up instead of down.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of farro or barley
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 ounces of pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mince
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (feel free to up the ante on this one if you enjoy spice as well)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs

The first step is to cook your farro or barley. To do so, follow package instructions which will most likely tell you to boil in water for x amount of time.

While x amount of time is occurring, heat the oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, cook the pancetta and let it brown slightly. Next, add the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook this until the onion has softened which should take around three minutes and then throw in the tomatoes and your grains from before. Provided said grains are ready to be cooked that is.

Cook this until the tomato juices have slightly reduced. This should be about 5 minutes and once these 5 minutes are up this is your time to season with salt and pepper to your likeing.

We are now ready to cook the eggs and will do so by creating 8 large wells in the sauce. It’s going to be difficult to do this perfectly, but try your best. Our goal is to make a well that will fit an egg. Once you’ve made eight that can accommodate start cracking your eggs into each of their little wells.

Cook the eggs under low heat for about 7 minutes until they’re cooked, but still slightly runny. You can poke your eggs with a pitchfork to make them cook faster if necessary. That might earn you points down instead of up though. Choose your own adventure.

Once those eggs are cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!

Cook This, Not That recommends consuming this dish by scooping it up with some bread and I say don’t make it just any bread. Make it garlic bread!

That would be straying from the low calorie breakfast goal intended unless you incorporated the crostini from Light and Healthy. Seems like a good option here to me. Again choose your own adventure, but depending on your current state of health garlic bread could be the devil on your shoulder. Tread carefully.

This was my first experience with Eggs in Purgatory and I have to save I was not disappointed. It’s an Italian version of Huevos Rancheros which makes the list of breakfast favorites for this girl so I’m not too surprised.

It was fairly easy to make as well. I did struggle with not breaking up the egg when I tried to remove it from my pan. The picture below was the best result I could get and I recognize it’s not one of my better pictures.

I’m not a professional food photographer so if this offends you then I suggest you hire one for me.

Despite it’s looks, this was tasty and I suggest you give it a chance. It may not be beautiful but it’s got a good soul.

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Eggs in Purgatory

Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans

The actual name of this dish from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen is Sweet and Sour Green Beans or in Italian Fagiolini all’Agro.

Early in the recipe for this it was mentioned to use French beans. That got me thinking, are these French-Italian beans and if so, who is the sweet and who is the sour? Cultural stereotyping tells me that both can be such, but just like a Japanese eggplant and Chinese eggplant are both eggplants, they are also not the same.

So, I did a quick investigation and what did I find? Agro in Italian means sour, but it also means countryside. Given that Agro was capitalized in the naming of this dish, it would appear to be going for the countryside term, but this is also a truly sweet and sour dish.

I’d like to think the Italians were being clever when they named this since the naming means both. If we were to do a direct translation to Californian we’d call this Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans, but’s that’s long right? So Italians were like, it’s from the farm, it’s sweet and sour. Let’s just called it all’Argo so people get that it’s both!

Still doesn’t explain the whole French bean thing, but maybe that’s just a side note anyway.

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 10 1/2 ounces of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • pepper
  • Lemon wedges

The first step is to fill a saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Once boiled add the beans and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain the water and set the beans aside.

We are now going to mix our sweet and sour dressing. Do so by mixing in a small bowl the lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar with your to taste addons of salt and pepper. Once everything has been properly mixed pour it over your beans and toss.

The beans should have a nice glossy coat and you should be ready to serve and eat with lemon wedges on the side.

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Lemon wedges not included

This is another dish that turned out well! It’s amazing how a simple dressing can transform a vegetable into something delectable.

This is exactly what’s happening here. The olive oil gives the beans a smooth silky texture and the lemon juice and vinegar give it a slight kick that dances around your tastebuds.

If you need a simple side dish for dinner then I highly recommend you give these beans a try!

Penne with Angry Sauce

According to Classic Pasta at Home red pepper flakes make pasta sauce angry.

Look Williams – Sonoma, I’m here to tell you the sauce isn’t angry, it’s just talking! And boy does this Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce love to talk!

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes aka angry flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 pound of ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • salt
  • 1 lb of penne
  • 1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese

Your first step is to heat some olive oil over medium heat in a nice large saute pan. Then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. The actual cookbook has a see note asterisk for this. This said note is basically letting you know that if you don’t use the full 1/2 teaspoon of flakes then you won’t be like a Roman.

My reaction to this note is represented below,

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I guess Ron and I are just “angry”

A 1/2 teaspoon is not that much sissies! I’d put at least a whole tablespoon.

Ok, I know. I’m being a spice snot. I will get over my spice elitism and advise you to adjust to whatever level you desire. Afterall, I did a ramen spice challenge this past weekend and none of my friends could handle it. One even asked me if I had magical powers.

If that is a power, well you can enlist me in The Mystery Men.

Seriously can someone do that for me?

Once you’ve determined your spice level, saute for about a minute and then add the parsley. Stir that for a few seconds and then add the tomatoes. Kick the burner heat up to medium-high to allow the tomatoes to simmer until they break down. Stir occasionally as you wait for this to happen. In about 15 minutes they should break down into more of a sauce consistency. Feel free to add water to thin out the sauce if necessary and salt to taste as well. Once you feel satisfied with the sauce texture, reduce the heat to low.

We are now ready to cook our pasta. Do so the usual way with boiled water and such. Follow your pasta box instructions for cooking time and when it’s time to drain the water, keep about a 1/4 of a cup for later use.

Combine the pasta and sauce together and toss to allow sauce to cover evenly. Then add the cheese and do the same, adding the reserved water as you toss.

Once the cheese and reserved water has been mixed evenly you are now ready to serve!

Do so by placing each serving in a pasta bowl and then topping with some cheese and parsley like below.

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Angry pasta with crostini

I was quite satisfied with the results of my angry pasta. It was simple, fresh, and “angry.”

Normally I love thinner and longer pastas like linguine, but the chunky tomatoes added to the texture of the penne making it juicy with just the right amount of chewiness. Also, there’s something about how the parsley and cheese fall into the grooves of the penne that make it bellisimo.

If you enjoy a little kick to your meals and want an easy, light pasta meal then this angry little pasta is your man!

Crostini, aka tiny garlic bread

My next recipe comes from Light and Healthy and the good news is that mini garlic toast doesn’t need much tweaking if you need to lay low when it comes to food consumption.

The only tip Light and Healthy has given us is to use olive oil spray so one can control the amount of oil and avoid infomercial level embarrassment like below

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We’ve all been there

Other than that this is your standard garlic bread recipe which consists of rubbing garlic on bread.

In case you don’t know how to do that, here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1 large baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • olive oil spray
  • salt and pepper

The first step is pre-heat the oven to 400 and place your rack in the middle.

Once the oven is heated, place the toast on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll want to turn them over half way through this process as well.

When baking time is up, take them out of the oven and immediately rub the garlic on each toast. You only need to do one side as well.

After the garlic rub, spray each toast with oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, cross your fingers, throw salt over your left shoulder, and then you should have some mini garlic bread.

For those of you who are not aware of my sarcasm, you don’t have to do the last two steps.

My point with the jokes is that this is elementary cooking my friends and I have faith each and every one of you can make this.

It’s so easy that I don’t know how to elaborate more on this or how to even end this post. So, on that note, check out this cute cat plate with crostini and have a good day!

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Crostini makes kitties happy

 

 

 

Polenta Alpina aka Polenta of the Alps

For those of you who have never heard of polenta, it’s a cornmeal based dish that is similar to grits.

As a child I used to call it Italian mashed potatoes even though no potatoes are involved. I hadn’t experienced grits yet so it seemed logical to associate them with mashed taters.

This logic is understandable if you knew the way my mother prepared it. She would serve alongside shredded chicken and marina sauce. The sauce was my Italian mashed potato gravy which funny enough is what some Italian-Americans would call their marinara.

This version is more of a Northern Italian style and doesn’t call for any type of gravy, in fact the author Mrs. Catherine Vincenti from my hometown’s Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook instructs us to get “a large bowl of leaf lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing, a glass of wine, fresh fruits and cookies, and finish with a strong cup of coffee.”

I like Mrs. Vincenti, so far she’s put the best little hint of flair at the end of her recipe.

What you’ll need

  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of shredded brick cheese
  • 1/2 pound of butter

Cooking the cornmeal is similar to cooking rice and pasta in the sense that you want to put it in a pot of boiling salted water. Once you do that, stir the cornmeal constantly for about a half hour,

You’ll know it’s ready when the corn meal has thickened and is easily scrapped off the side of the pan.

Once this happens you are ready to bake your polenta. This process is similar to lasagna because you will be layering up your cheese and polenta. The first layer is the polenta, then the cheese. Continue to do this until you reach the top where the final layer will be polenta along with some pepper seasoning.

Before you place that polenta in the oven, we have one more topping to add and that topping is butter my friends.

Get your butter and a pan, melt it, and then pour it on top.

Now we are ready to bake and we will do so for a half hour at a temperature of 325-350.

At the end of the day, I prefer my mother’s version of polenta. My Italian people come more from the southern portion of Italy. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the northerners style. My genes just gravitate towards red gravy and slightly spicy dishes.

This is still a good recipe and I had a lot of fun making it with my LA bestie who had never had polenta before. She loved this recipe and I was glad she did, but I still want her to try my mama’s.

The cheese strangely gives the polenta a slight bitter flavor which I’m not used to. My experience with polenta has more of a slightly grainy and sweet flavor that gets a pop of taste when you add the marina in the mix. I’ll still give it an Italian like, despite my preferences.

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Cheesy polenta from those northerners

 

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Italian like